ID# 238:
"Biological aspects of immigration," Harry H. Laughlin testimony before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization
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American Philosophical Society, ERO, MSC77,SerX,Box1: Harry H. Laughlin
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&quote;Biological aspects of immigration,&quote; Harry H. Laughlin testimony before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization

12 Biological Aspects of Immigration. The Chairman. In that connection the charge is often made that the aliens coming into the country, or a large population of them, rather, fell into such distressing conditions that insanity develops, and not only insanity, but all the conditions that are brought about by poor nutrition and poverty? Mr. Laughlin. Of course, as in every desirable human condition in every unfortunate condition there are the two factors; hereditary make-up on the one hand, and environmental conditions on the other; we should allow some differential in favor of the alien here on account of the stress of new conditions. But we must remember that many aliens come to our country, and bear up under it all; they do not break down. We have made a study of some families in which, under the least distressing conditions, this or that individual member will break down and be sent to the insane hospitals; and we have made studies of other families who have undergone much more distressing circumstances, year after year, and have borne them and have not broken down at all. We should allow a differential, but we should not allow that much - Mr. Box(interposing). Let me interrupt you just a minute; Have you had occasion to compare the conditions of the alien here and his conditions where he came from? If there is any force in the argument that the chairman has stated - the chairman does not advance it as an argument, he only mentioned it for your consideration - but if they find conditions so much worse here that a man who was sane when he came had become insane here, that would argue that they are leaving good conditions in their own countries to come to bad conditions in this country; and men do not ordinarily leave their own homes under those circumstances. Mr. White. Of course, it may be under a misapprehension. Mr. Laughlin. No; it is the stress of the change, not necessarily from good to bad, but from familiar to unfamiliar scenes. Mr. Box. Have you had occasion to study the relative percentages of insane and inadequate people in the countries from which they come and in this country - the native stock at home - and then under American conditions? Mr. Laughlin. No; we have not done that, although we want to do that some day. The statistics at present available do not give us a comparable condition. Now, even in our own States - take Massachusetts, for instance; it has a highly developed system of caring for the inadequates; compare with it some of the States that let them run almost wild; it would be pretty hard to deduce eugenical values from the institutional statistics alone. We can see the great variation in the expenditures of the individual States on account of custodial care, from one-third to one-twentieth - but this does not mean that this ratio in any manner measures the relative values of the human stock resident in the States compared. There is one other statistical item that I want to give you. It also is from the New York State Hospital Commission. The frequency of insanity among the foreign population of New York State is 2.9 times that of the frequency of insanity in the population of native birth. Mr. Box. Two and one-half times as great? Mr. Laughlin. That is, the first commitments to hospitals for the insane in New York State.

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